On April 21, they took the first step.
On June 19, they outlined the metaphorical 1,000-mile journey.
Following the adoption of the name Riverview Terrace for the former Allegheny Village on Route 6 at their April meeting, members of the Warren County Housing Authority's board of directors have looked for ways to improve the site, both in function and image.
At Tuesday afternoon's meeting, staff outlined how and received the board's approval.
Executive Director Tonya Mitchell-Weston called the name change a "first step" at the site's re-opening on June 8. She went on to say that "changing the hearts and minds of the community" was the next step. Now the authority has a plan to do just that.
Following a May 21 conference call with officials in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Pittsburgh field office, authority staff started forming a plan for services that could be handled at the site if they converted some of the rental units to other uses.
While there are restrictions on what the converted units could be used for, the move would signal some big changes.
Mitchell-Weston pointed out approximately 22 units, mostly in a single housing "block", that would tentatively be converted. The move would not only open up new services at the site, but raise occupancy a key part of scores used to determine authority funding to 97 percent.
"We want to take this whole row," Mitchell-Weston said referencing a map of the site. "We want to gut it and put in all new services."
Authority staff envision a development with daycare, a community center, job search services, life skills education and a constant police presence.
According to Mitchell-Weston, the authority hopes to rent space to run a daycare service at the site to an independent operator. The plan would provide parents living at Riverview Terrace an important service, provide the daycare with an on-site clientele, and provide the authority with an unrestricted revenue source.
The move would also open up room for a community center at the site that could be more than just a social hall. The staff proposes a center where local organizations can offer job training and help finding work for the unemployed. Under HUD self-sufficiency guidelines, a community center offering those sorts of services could still be eligible for housing subsidy funding.
A laundromat is also proposed at the site. According to Mitchell-Weston, it constitutes a much-needed service because a significant number of residents are without access to transportation and there is no similar service closer than Warren.
The authority has also proposed moving staff offices from the current Conewango Towers location to Riverview Terrace. The benefits of the move would be three-fold: authority staff would have more space in which to work. moving the offices would open up current office space at Conewango Towers to be rented. and having staff on-site could reduce the number of "problem activities."
"With our offices up there, I'm banking on the fact that it's going to change the whole dynamic," Mitchell-Weston said.
The authority is already working with the Conewango Township Police Department to install a police sub-station at Riverview Terrace. The sub-station would also qualify for continued housing subsidies.
"I think it's important that people feel safe," Mitchell-Weston said. "The people who live there, it's not necessarily them, some of it's visitors. They need to know we're serious."
The authority is also working with Penelec and PennDOT to install a street light near the bus stop at Riverview Terrace.